By Septimus Senessie in Kono
The tax officer of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in the Eastern district of Kono, Ansumana Bockarie has accused the road construction company, Well Group Sierra Leone Limited of “theft, cheating and lying”. The company is in charge of the construction of the 20-kilometre road within the Koidu.
The NRA man was responding to a statement by the sub-contractors of Well Group Sierra Leone Limited that 5% deducted from money owed them were directly paid to NRA in fulfilment of their tax obligations to the government.
Bockarie said that the Well Group had to pay for three different taxes ranging from the withholding tax, pay-as-you-earn tax and pay roll tax amounting to millions of Leones for the last two years. He pointed out that since 2011 when the company started operations in Kono, they had made several attempts to have the number of workers in their employ both foreign and national so as to help calculate the amount owed the revenue authority. He said the never got to get those statistics.
He said the failure by the company to disclose the number of employees was tantamount to tax evasion adding that this amounted to “a criminal act to the highest point” under the NRA laws. He further accused Well Group of having “a bad record of payment of taxes to NRA and NASSIT for their staff.”
Bai Bangura is among several sub-contractors contracted by Well Group to do drainages, who also accused the Well Group of “criminal acts and cheatings.” He said that in 2011/12 the company deducted from his money Le 11 million PAYE and withholding taxes to be paid to NRA which he alleged did not reflect on NRA when he went to update his NRA tax clearance certificate for his private construction company.
Speaking to Politico, the Country Director of Well Group Sierra Leone Limited described the allegations by NRA and the Bai Bangura as “malicious and witch hunting” against her company. Aminata Bangura said that they did not appreciate the operations of her company in the district despite “the vast improvement” they had made on the road works in Koidu.
She said that all companies on government contracts could not evade tax “because after disbursing the money to you, the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) will take 20% and the government 5% from the money as retention fees”.
On payment of NASSIT contribution for staff, Aminata said they had also done so for their entire workers.